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Ammon introducing game changing fiber optic business model

It’s unlike anything else in the country. The City of Ammon is in the early stages of introducing direct home connection fiber optic lines as regular utility lines for people who choose to opt in.

The change means the typical installation and maintenance costs of setting up the internet will no longer be done by internet providers, but by the city and homeowners who choose to have the fiber optic cables linked to their home. Internet providers will only be in charge of providing the digital connection to the internet.

“So it is a little bit more complicated for the average consumer because they’re going to pay three separate bills,” said Bruce Patterson, Ammon’s technology director. “But we feel like that it is true to form, and it’s going to change incentives for the subscriber, for the operator, and for the service provider.”

For consumers, if they choose to opt in to the fiber optic connection, they’ll have to pay a one time installation fee and a monthly maintenance fee to the city. Then they can choose directly which internet provider they want to use with a simple click of a button. The idea is if people don’t like their internet provider, they’ll be able to change providers within minutes by logging into Ammon’s network, unsubscribing from one provider, and subscribing to another.

“We provide the tools to the subscriber so they can control their own network connection,” said Patterson.

The model has such the potential to be a game changer, Patterson says the Federal Communications Commission has called him multiple times. “They know this could change the way internet is provided, and are watching closely,” said Patterson.

The city is already testing the network with a few families around town. Laura Willis, one of the first families to try out the new fiber optic network, says she likes what she sees. “We just moved here from a larger city and found the (internet) options in Idaho Falls were slim at best,” said Willis. “So having a connection that was quick enough to keep up with what we do was important.”

Willis says she also likes the idea of being able to switch providers at will. “When I’m given the option between multiple service providers to determine what speed I want, how fast I want it, when it’s going to get there, how much I want to pay for it, that invites competition,” said Willis.

City leaders say the hope the competition will keep costs down and motivate companies to provide better and more reliable internet connections.

The initial cost of installing a fiber optic link is a hefty $3,000. Ammon city leader say there are multiple ways to pay for the line, including making payments with your property tax over a multi-year period.

Also included in the cost is a $15 monthly maintenance fee paid to the city. Patterson says in general the monthly cost is about the same for what people currently pay for internet. The advantage comes with the ability to switch providers instantly, and get speeds of up to 1 GB per second of upload or download speed.

People living in Ammon who are interested in learning more about the fiber optic network or sign up for the service, can find a link HERE

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